Ask a COVID-19 Question
Last updated: [02/26/21]
*** Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel. Alternatively, travelers to the U.S. may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel. Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions.
- Bulgaria has 243,946 reported cases of COVID-19 within its borders.
- Bulgaria has 10,079 reported fatalities from COVID-19 within its borders.
- Bulgaria is following WHO and ECDC guidance on threat mitigation.
- Grocery stores and pharmacies remain open. Supplies including food and medicine remain plentiful.
- Kindergartens, nurseries and schools for elementary students are open. Beginning February 4, 2021 students from 5th to 12th grade are gradually starting in-person classes at school under a phased schedule. University students are taught remotely.
- Group celebrations with the presence of more than 15 people indoors and outdoors (including weddings, balls, baptisms, etc.) are not allowed.
- Masks: All persons must cover their mouth and nose with a mask in all indoor public spaces (including hospitals, pharmacies, administrative institutions, shops, malls, churches, museums, and all public transportation including railway, bus and metro stations, and airports, etc.) as well as in open public spaces where there is a crowd of people and impossibility to observe a physical distance of 1.5 m. Scarves or substitute face coverings are no longer allowed in place of a mask.
- Are PCR and/or antigen tests available for U.S. citizens in BULGARIA? Yes
- If so, are test results reliably available within 72 hours? Yes
- PCR testing is widely available at sites across the country, including hospitals and private laboratories. Currently 100 hospitals and laboratories in Bulgaria are officially accredited by the Ministry of Health. A full list is published in Health Order No: № РД-01-23/15.01.2020 г.: https://www.mh.government.bg/bg/normativni-aktove/zapovedi-pravilnitsi-instruktsii/. The fee is generally approximately $100 and is fully covered by the U.S. Citizen. It is preferable, to make an appointment by phone as most of the hospitals have specific time slots during which citizens can get tested. Tests results can be checked online but originals are usually stamped and collected in person. For more information email ACS_Sofia@state.gov.
- Waivers to the CDC testing requirement for flights to the United States. Waivers to the testing requirement may be granted by the CDC on an extremely limited basis when extraordinary emergency travel (like an emergency medical evacuation) must occur to preserve someone’s health and safety, and testing cannot be completed before travel. There are no waivers available for individuals who test positive for COVID-19. Individuals – or air carriers seeking to allow boarding by potentially qualifying individuals – who believe they meet the criteria for a waiver should contact the U.S. Embassy at ACS_Sofia@state.gov and provide the information below. The U.S. Embassy will then submit the request to the CDC for consideration.
- The following information must be provided for each passenger:
- (a) Name (family name/surname, given name), passport number and country
- (b) Cell phone number including country code of passenger or head of household if family unit
- (c) Email address of passenger or head of household if family unit
- (d) U.S. destination address; Is U.S. destination home address?
- (e) Departure date
- (f) Flight itinerary
- (g) Name of submitting entity if different from passenger
- (h) Name of company submitting on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
- (i) Name of point of contact submitting on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
- (j) Phone and email address for POC submitting waiver request on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
- (k) Purpose of travel to the U.S. (provide brief explanation of why urgent travel is needed and how travel will contribute to health and safety of passengers(s))
- (l) Justification for testing waiver (e.g. no testing available, impact on health and safety)
- (m) Documentation to support justification for test waiver, if available (e.g. medical records or orders for medical evacuation)
COVID-19 Vaccine Information:
- Has the government of Bulgaria approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use? Yes
- The United States Government does not plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to private U.S. citizens overseas. Please follow host country developments and guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination.
- According to the Bulgarian government’s National Vaccination Plan the vaccination program prioritizes critical workers including healthcare staff and teachers, and vulnerable groups including residents of elder care homes, people with serious chronic conditions and people over 65. General vaccination will only be available once these priority groups are vaccinated. The Ministry of Heath estimates that general vaccination will not begin before May at the earliest. Official information on vaccination is available in Bulgarian language only at https://coronavirus.bg/bg/vaccinations
- Information from the CDC regarding COVID-19 vaccination.
Entry and Exit Requirements:
Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter? No.
U.S. citizens are still prohibited from entering Bulgaria unless they meet one of the exceptions to entry restrictions found in the current Bulgarian Ministry of Health Order as posted on the Ministry of Health website. The entry restrictions went into effect on July 31, 2020 and have been extended to April 30, 2021. The restrictions apply to all persons, regardless of their citizenship, and all types of border crossings including by air (both commercial and private aircraft), sea, rail, and road transport.
Exceptions: Those excepted from entry restrictions include:
- (a) Bulgarian nationals (and their family members or persons who are in actual cohabitation with a Bulgarian citizen);
- nationals of the European Union and the Schengen Agreement States (including San Marino, Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City), and their family members or persons who are in actual cohabitation with them;
- citizens of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, North Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Moldova, Israel, Kuwait, the Republic of Belarus, and Turkey;
- persons with permanent or long-term resident status in Bulgaria (and their family members);
- persons who hold Bulgarian visa type “D” for long-term residence;
- persons with resident status (and their family members) of Member States of the European Union, the Schengen Agreement States (including San Marino, Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City);
- (b) medical professionals, medical researchers, social workers, and their supervisors when traveling related to their duties;
- (v) workers involved in the supply of medicinal products, medical devices and personal protective equipment, medical equipment, including its installation and maintenance;
- (g) transport staff engaged in the international carriage of passengers and cargo, crews of commercial aircraft and other transport staff as required, including vessel crews and persons involved in the maintenance of vessels;
- (d) foreign officials, diplomats, members of the administrative and technical staff of foreign missions, officials of international organizations, military personnel, and humanitarian workers in the performance of their duties and their family members;
- (e) persons traveling for humanitarian reasons and their family;
- (zh) representatives of trade, economic, and investment activities directly related to: construction, maintenance, operation and ensuring the safety of strategic and critical infrastructure of the Republic of Bulgaria, implementation of projects certified under the Investment Promotion Act, analysis on projects of potential investors and other activities of importance for the economy of the country, certified by a letter from the Minister of Economy or another minister responsible for the respective activity, as well as persons engaged in shipbuilding and ship repair, and their family members;
- (z) seasonal agricultural and tourism workers;
- (i) frontier workers;
- (k) (k) students and participants in examination commissions in cases where the exam cannot be taken online;
- (l) organizers and participants in international sports competitions – for the time of the respective sport event; foreign athletes coming to Bulgaria for a specific period of time; foreign contestants and their coaches entering the country for training camp purposes; family members of foreign athletes and coaches who hold Bulgarian visa type “D” for long-term residence, certified by a letter from the Minister of Youth and Sport, in which the names of the persons and the place (address) of their residence in Bulgaria are indicated. The letter shall be presented to the border control authorities;
- (m) foreign citizens, who are to receive a decree under the Bulgarian Citizenship Law for acquiring a Bulgarian citizenship, certified by a letter from the Minister of Justice.
- (n) organizers and participants in international cultural events – for the time of the respective cultural event; certified by a letter from the Minister of Culture, in which the names of the persons and the place (address) of their residence in Bulgaria are indicated. The letter shall be presented to the border control authorities.
All persons exempted from entry restrictions are also allowed to transit the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.
- Is a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) required for entry? Yes, PCR test is required.
- international bus and truck drivers;
- crews of commercial aircrafts and other transport staff as required, including vessel crews and persons involved in the maintenance of vessels;
- frontier workers;
- persons transiting the country;
- students living in Greece, Turkey, Serbia, Northern Macedonia and Romania and traveling daily or at least once a week to Bulgaria for study purposes, as well as students living in Bulgaria and traveling daily or at least once a week to Greece, Turkey, Serbia, Northern Macedonia and Romania for study purposes;
- Bulgarian citizens and persons with the status of permanent or long-term residence status in Bulgaria and the members of their families, who do not present a document for a negative result from a PCR test performed up to 72 hours before their entry into the country, will be quarantined for a period of 10 days. The quarantine can be revoked in case they obtain a negative result of a PCR test performed 24 hours after their arrival in Bulgaria. The quarantine is to be lifted within 24 hours after the submission of the document showing a negative PCR test result.
- Are health screening procedures in place at airports and other ports of entry? Yes.
- Visa Extensions from the Bulgarian Migration Directorate: According to the current regulations, visitors may be eligible for a one-time extension of the 90-day visa-free stay. For more information, please visit a local Migration office or contact Migration at email@example.com.
- Is a curfew in place? No.
- Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? No.
- Are U.S. citizens required to quarantine? No.
- If a U.S. citizen falls into an excepted category and has a negative PCR test performed in the last 72 hours they will not be required to quarantine.
- Dual U.S.-Bulgarian citizens, persons with permanent or long-term resident status in Bulgaria (and their family members) who do not have a negative PCR test performed in the last 72 hours will be required to self-isolate/quarantine at home for 10 days.
- Are commercial flights operating? Yes.
- Sofia Airport remains open with reduced flights. Departure information is available at https://www.sofia-airport.bg/en/passengers/flight-information/departures.
- Is public transportation operating? Yes.
- All persons must cover their mouth and nose with a mask or covering on all public transportation including while in railway, bus and metro stations, and airports etc.
Fines for Non-Compliance:
- Those not in compliance with rules regarding social distancing, mask mandates, and quarantine directives may be fined or arrested.
- The Consular section continues to provide emergency services supporting U.S. citizens in Bulgaria including passports, voting assistance and emergency Special Consular Services. For additional information or to schedule a service please email ACS_Sofia@state.gov.
- As of November 19, 2020 the United States Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria is processing only applications for C1/D visas, limited H visas ( involved in the food industry), emergency or mission critical B1/B2 visas and certain immigrant visas including IR1, IR2, CR1, CR2 and IH3. Processing of B1/B2 and C1/D visa renewals which meet the requirements for an interview waiver will continue. Please see https://bg.usembassy.gov/visas/ for more information.
- The Bulgarian Ministry of Health has information for citizens and medical professionals on its website. (Bulgarian only)
- The Bulgarian government has created a COVID-19 United Information Portal. (Bulgarian only)
- Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Situation Center website. (Bulgarian only)
- COVID-19 crisis page on travel.state.gov
- CDC page on COVID-19
- Bulgaria Country Information and Travel Advisory on Travel.State.Gov
- Re-open EU travel information for other EU countries, if transiting on the way to Bulgaria
Advice to U.S. Citizens:
- U.S. citizens planning to depart Bulgaria should contact their airlines and consider contingency plans in case travel options become more limited in the future.
- International commercial flight options currently exist in Bulgaria.
- If you are a U.S. citizen in Bulgaria and need to renew a U.S. passport, please email ACS_Sofia@state.gov.
Advice to Non – U.S. Citizens:
Currently, Presidential proclamations set entry restrictions for foreign nationals travelling to the United States. Please see https://bg.usembassy.gov/visas/visas-important-notifications/ to learn more.